Erik ten Hag has four-man shortlist and ‘wants to sell misfiring star’

Erik ten Hag reviews the Real Betis win

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has already drawn up a four-man striker shortlist ahead of the upcoming summer transfer window, according to reports. The Dutchman is widely expected to be in the market for a new first-choice marksman when the bidding opens, with Wout Weghorst set to return to Burnley upon the expiry of his loan deal at the end of the current season.

Several high-profile names have been mentioned in connection with United over the last few weeks, although it seems as though Ten Hag has whittled them down to a list of four concrete targets as he weighs up his options in the market ahead of the summer months. Harry Kane is the standout candidate at the very top of the agenda, according to the Manchester Evening News, with Ten Hag eager to sign the England captain as he approaches the final year of his existing deal at Tottenham.

United would realistically be Kane’s best option if he decides to seek a new challenge away from north London at the end of the season, with the Red Devils the only ‘big six’ team in the Premier League crying out for a world-class forward to lead the line for them over the next few years. However, such a move would likely require a huge transfer fee in order to push a deal over the line, with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy a notoriously tough negotiator.

Kane tried to leave Spurs two years ago amid strong interest from Manchester City, although Levy was quick to reject any and all advances for the 29-year-old in spite of his desire to move on. The defending Premier League champions reportedly submitted at least two nine-figure offers but saw them both rebuffed before eventually bringing Erling Haaland to the Etihad Stadium 12 months later.

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United might fancy their chances of landing Kane for a slightly reduced fee if he decides against signing a new contract at Tottenham, who will face a tricky dilemma over whether to cash in later this year or risk losing him on a free transfer in the summer of 2024. The Red Devils have reportedly identified three alternative targets if they fail in their pursuit of Kane, though, with Ten Hag desperate to avoid missing out on the signing of a new striker before next season gets underway.

Napoli frontman Victor Osimhen is said to remain a player of interest to United, while Ajax forward Mohammed Kudus and Benfica marksman Goncalo Ramos have also been earmarked as potential leads to pursue if Kane ends up staying at Tottenham. However, it remains to be seen how the situation will play out when the transfer market re-opens in the summer, with United’s recruitment strategy likely to depend on whether or not Levy is prepared to entertain any offers for Kane over the coming months.

Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher recently insisted that Kane could be tempted to push for a move to Old Trafford at some point in the not-too-distant future, with the likes of Chelsea, City and Arsenal firmly out of the equation as things stand.

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“I think the only place he can go realistically is Manchester United and I don’t want to see him at Manchester United for obvious reasons,” Carragher told CBS Sports. “When you think Liverpool have just signed Darwin Nunez, Manchester City have got Erling Haaland, and he can’t go to Arsenal.

“I don’t think there are too many clubs there right now for him, but in terms of what is happening right now I think it is pretty negative and I think it will be interesting to see how it goes from now until the end of the season. I think there is going to be a real negativity around this club [Tottenham] between now and the end of the season.”

United are also said to be preparing to sell Anthony Martial when the summer transfer window rolls around, with his expected departure only serving to highlight their need for a new striker to come in before the start of next season. The Frenchman has struggled to live up to expectations since joining the Red Devils from Monaco back in 2016 and has made a total of nine Premier League appearances over the course of the current campaign, chipping in with just three goals in the process.

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